Commonwealth Small States Advocacy Champions meet for first time in Washington

15 April 2023
Image of the Meeting

The Commonwealth Small States Advocacy Champions convened their first meeting during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings on 14 April, to discuss emerging and key issues related to economic vulnerability, climate change, access to finance, and debt sustainability.

The objective of the meeting was to agree on a concrete plan of action to influence the global development agenda and support small and vulnerable states.

In her opening remarks, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:

“The negative economic consequences of the pandemic, the pressure on the food system and global supply chains, the challenge of inflation and rising debt, and the intensifying impacts of climate change are seismic even on an individual basis – but as a combination they are devastating … There is no question that small states are hit first and hardest and are more exposed to deeper long-term consequences.

“I believe the Commonwealth’s interventions are valuable, credible and impactful – but we all know that on their own they are not enough. We need to push, together, for systemic change. 

“This meeting is a vital platform for us to collectively examine the challenges facing small states, to identify new and innovative solutions, and to advocate together for these solutions in a way that can galvanise the entire international community – and make a meaningful difference.”

The UN-Commonwealth Joint Advocacy Strategy for Small States was welcomed last year by Heads at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali. The strategy calls for collective action to address the vulnerabilities of small states and to influence the economic agenda to recognise and support these countries. The strategy is driven by the advocacy champions who are at the Ministerial level, leading on priority areas of choice and using platforms to relay consistent messages to forge global support and action.

The pandemic and geopolitical tensions have further exposed the acute vulnerabilities of small states. The advocacy strategy focuses on the following priority areas for collective endorsement and consistent messaging:

  1. economic vulnerability;
  2. climate action;
  3. access to finance and debt sustainability.

In their first meeting today, the Advocacy Champions discussed plans to advocate for the international recognition of small states’ economic vulnerability and call for a consistent definition and measurement of economic vulnerability. They also called on the international community to fully implement the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Pact and intensify efforts on the energy transition, supporting small states’ adaptation and resilience.

Speaking at the meeting, the chair, Finance Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, H.E. Camillo Gonsalves, said:

“As we approach the midway point towards meeting the aspirations set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have to ensure that citizens of the small states are not left behind; the development needs of these states ought to be addressed and this can only be realised if we work together in mobilising global action for the support of small states.

“We have the advocacy strategy for small states; we have the advocacy champions entrusted to deliver this strategy in various international platforms; we have the tools to mobilise global action. I am hopeful that this meeting will result in action-oriented outcomes which will feed into the ongoing high-level events leading up to the UN Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference.”

Going forward, the champions will also call for scaling up of climate finance and support small and vulnerable countries to access newly established funds. Additionally, they will advocate for the international community to implement comprehensive solutions to the concessional and private finance challenges facing small states, including with reference to those identified during the United Nations Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond process.

The meeting was attended by 15 Advocacy Champions and representatives from member countries that expressed interest in serving as Advocacy Champions.

The inaugural meeting of the Commonwealth-UN Advocacy Champions for Small States recognises the urgency and seeks to develop plans to enable the Champions to be strong advocates and to take collective action on addressing the inter-related economic and environmental challenges confronting small states.

Media contact

  • Rena Gashumba  Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7483 919 968  |  E-mail